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Photo: Pim Top for FranklinTill
29.11.2022

Heimtextil Trends 23/24: Textiles Matter

The Heimtextil Trend Preview 23/24 presented future-oriented design concepts and inspiration for the textile furnishing sector. With ‘Textiles Matter’, Heimtextil 2023 wants to set the benchmark for tomorrow’s forward-facing and sustainable textile furnishing. Hence, the focus is on circularity. Marta Giralt Dunjó of futures research agency FranklinTill (Great Britain) presented the design prognoses for 23/24. At the coming Heimtextil in Frankfurt am Main from 10 to 13 January 2023, the presentations of new products will generate stimulating impulses in the Trend Space.

The Heimtextil Trend Preview 23/24 presented future-oriented design concepts and inspiration for the textile furnishing sector. With ‘Textiles Matter’, Heimtextil 2023 wants to set the benchmark for tomorrow’s forward-facing and sustainable textile furnishing. Hence, the focus is on circularity. Marta Giralt Dunjó of futures research agency FranklinTill (Great Britain) presented the design prognoses for 23/24. At the coming Heimtextil in Frankfurt am Main from 10 to 13 January 2023, the presentations of new products will generate stimulating impulses in the Trend Space.

The Heimtextil Trend Council – consisting of FranklinTill Studio (London), Stijlinstituut Amsterdam and Denmark’s SPOTT Trends & Business agency – offers insights into the future of the national and international market. The focus is more than ever before on sustainability and the circular economy, the main factors in setting the trends for the season 23/24.

Textiles Matter: bear responsibility
Textiles are an integral part of modern life. The material applications and the manufacturing processes are no less multifarious than user expectations. And this represents a great challenge for the international textile industry, which obtains its raw materials from a broad spectrum of sources and uses numerous processes to make a huge variety of products. This offers a great potential for the sustainable development of the textile industry in the future. The Heimtextil Trends show ways in which this potential can be utilized and sustainable developments promoted. Under the motto ‘Textiles Matter’, visitors can explore concepts for increased circularity, which will generate new impulses for the sustainable market of the future.

"Considering the state of environmental emergency we are currently living through, the textile industry has a responsibility to examine its processes, and change for the better. That is why for this edition of the Heimtextil Trends we are taking a material’s first approach, and focusing on the sourcing, design, and sustainability of materials. Textiles Matter showcases the potential of circularity and celebrates design initiatives that are beautiful, relevant and importantly sustainable”, explains Marta Giralt Dunjó of FranklinTill.

Change via circularity
The Trend Space at the coming Heimtextil 2023 will revolve around ideas and solutions for circularity in the textile sector. How can textiles be produced in a sustainable way? What recycling options are there? What does the optimum recycling of textile products look like? Within the framework of the circular economy, materials are continuously reused. On the one hand, this reduces the need for new raw materials and, on the other hand, cuts the amount of waste generated. In the technical cycle, inorganic materials, such as nylon, polyester, plastic and metal, can be recycled with no loss of quality. In the biological cycle, organic materials, such as linen and bast fibres, are returned to nature at the end of their useful life. This is the basis of the four trend themes: ‘Make and Remake’, ‘Continuous’, ‘From Earth’ and ‘Nature Engineered’.

Make and Remake
Pre-used materials, deadstock and remnant textiles are given a new lease of life with the focus shifting to the aesthetics of repair and taking the form of a specific design element of the recycled product. Bright and joyful colours and techniques, such as overprinting, overdyeing, bricolage, collage and patchwork, result in new and creative products. Layered colour patterns and graphics lead to bold and maximalist, yet conscious, designs.

Continuous
The Continuous trend theme describes closed-loop systems in which materials are recycled into new, waste-free products again and again. Putative waste materials are separated out and reprocessed as new fibres, composites and textiles. Thus, synthetic and cellulose yarns can be produced zero-waste. Thanks to technically advanced reclamation processes, the materials retain their original quality and aesthetic. Practicality, essentialism and longevity determine the design of Continuous products.

From Earth
This theme focuses on the natural world and harmony with the nature of organic materials. Natural colours communicate warmth and softness. Imperfect textures, signs of wear and irregularities create ecological and earth-born aesthetics. Earthen and botanic shades, natural variation and tactile richness dominate the From Earth segment. Unrefined and raw surfaces, unbleached textiles and natural dyes celebrate materials in their original states.

Nature Engineered
Nature Engineered uses mechanical means to elevate and perfect organic materials, such as bast fibres, hemp, linen and nettles. Cutting-edge techniques process natural textiles into sophisticated and smart products. Combined with shades of beige and brown, clean lines and shapes are the distinguishing features of this theme.

More information:
Heimtextil Trends FranklinTill
Source:

Heimtextil, Messe Frankfurt

Photo: Bcomp
22.11.2022

Made in Switzerland: Is Flax the New Carbon?

  • Bcomp wins BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the category “Newcomer of the Year”

The sixth BMW Group Supplier Innovation Awards were presented at the BMW Welt in Munich on 17 November 2022. The coveted award was presented in a total of six categories: powertrain & e-mobility, sustainability, digitalisation, customer experience, newcomer of the year and exceptional team performance.

Bcomp won the BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the Newcomer of the Year category. Following a successful collaboration with BMW M Motorsport for the new BMW M4 GT4 that extensively uses Bcomp’s powerRibs™ and ampliTex™ natural fibre solutions and BMW iVentures recently taking a stake in Bcomp as lead investor in the Series B round, this award is another major step and recognition on the path to decarbonizing mobility.

  • Bcomp wins BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the category “Newcomer of the Year”

The sixth BMW Group Supplier Innovation Awards were presented at the BMW Welt in Munich on 17 November 2022. The coveted award was presented in a total of six categories: powertrain & e-mobility, sustainability, digitalisation, customer experience, newcomer of the year and exceptional team performance.

Bcomp won the BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the Newcomer of the Year category. Following a successful collaboration with BMW M Motorsport for the new BMW M4 GT4 that extensively uses Bcomp’s powerRibs™ and ampliTex™ natural fibre solutions and BMW iVentures recently taking a stake in Bcomp as lead investor in the Series B round, this award is another major step and recognition on the path to decarbonizing mobility.

“Innovations are key to the success of our transformation towards electromobility, digitalisation and sustainability. Our award ceremony recognises innovation and cooperative partnership with our suppliers – especially in challenging times,” said Joachim Post, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network at the ceremony held at BMW Welt in Munich.

BMW first started to work with Bcomp’s materials in 2019 when they used high-performance natural fibre composites in the BMW iFE.20 Formula E car. From this flax fibre reinforced cooling shaft, the collaboration evolved and soon after, the proprietary ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ natural fibre solutions were found successfully substituting selected carbon fibre components in DTM touring cars from BMW M Motorsport. By trickling down and expanding into other vehicle programs, such developments highlight the vital role that BMW M Motorsports plays as a technology lab for the entire BMW Group. This continues in the form of the latest collaboration with Bcomp to include a higher proportion of renewable raw materials in the successor of the BMW M4 GT4.

With the launch of the new BMW M4 GT4, it will be the serial GT car with the highest proportion of natural fibre components. Bcomp’s ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ flax fibre solutions can be found throughout the interior on the dashboard and centre console, as well as on bodywork components such as the hood, front splitter, doors, trunk, and rear wing. Aside from the roof, there are almost no carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) components that were not replaced by the renewable high-performance flax materials. “Product sustainability is increasing in importance in the world of motorsport too,” says Franciscus van Meel, Chairman of the Board of Management at BMW M GmbH.

Bcomp is a leading solutions provider for natural fibre reinforcements in high performance applications from race to space.

The company started as a garage project in 2011 with a mission to create lightweight yet high performance skis. The bCores™ were launched and successfully adopted by some of the biggest names in freeride skiing. The founders, material science PhDs from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), used flax fibres to reinforce the balsa cores and improve shear stiffness. Impressed by the excellent mechanical properties of flax fibres, the development to create sustainable lightweighting solutions for the wider mobility markets started.

Flax is an indigenous plant that grows naturally in Europe and has been part of the agricultural history for centuries. It requires very little water and nutrients to grow successfully. In addition, it acts as a rotational crop, thus enhancing harvests on existing farmland. Neither cultivation nor processing of the flax plants requires any chemicals that could contaminate ground water and harvesting is a completely mechanical process. After harvesting the entire flax plant can be used for feed, to make oil and its fibres are especially used for home textiles and clothing. The long fibre that comes from the flax plant possesses very good mechanical properties and outstanding damping properties in relation to its density, making it especially suited as a natural fibre reinforcement for all kinds of polymers.

The harvesting and processing of flax takes place locally in the rural areas it was grown in. Using European flax sourced through a well-established and transparent supply chain it allows to support the economic and social structure in rural areas thanks to the large and skilled workforce required to sustain the flax production. When it comes to the production of technical products like the powerRibs™ reinforcement grid, Bcomp is investing in local production capacities close to its headquarters in the city of Fribourg, Switzerland, thus creating new jobs and maintaining technical know-how in the area. The production is built to be as efficient as possible and with minimal environmental impact and waste.

Further strengthening the local economy, Bcomp aims to hire local companies for missions and with the headquarters being located in Fribourg’s “Blue Factory” district, Bcomp can both benefit from and contribute to the development of this sustainable and diverse quarter.

Source:

Bcomp; BMW Group

Photo Pixabay
16.11.2022

Green chemistry transforms facemasks into Ethernet cables

Swansea University academics have pioneered a process which converts the carbon found in discarded facemasks to create high-quality single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNT) which were then used to make Ethernet cable with broadband quality.
 
The study, which has been published in Carbon Letters, outlines how this new green chemistry could be used to upcycle materials which would otherwise be thrown away and transform them into high value materials with real-world applications. The CNTs produced by this technique have the potential not only to be used in Ethernet cables, but also in the production of lightweight batteries used in electric cars and drones.

Swansea University academics have pioneered a process which converts the carbon found in discarded facemasks to create high-quality single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNT) which were then used to make Ethernet cable with broadband quality.
 
The study, which has been published in Carbon Letters, outlines how this new green chemistry could be used to upcycle materials which would otherwise be thrown away and transform them into high value materials with real-world applications. The CNTs produced by this technique have the potential not only to be used in Ethernet cables, but also in the production of lightweight batteries used in electric cars and drones.

Professor Alvin Orbaek White, of Swansea University’s Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI):
“Single-use facemasks are a real travesty for the recycling system as they create vast amounts of plastic waste - much of it ending up in our oceans. During the study, we established that the carbon inside the facemask can be used as a pretty good feedstock to make high-quality materials like CNTs.

“CNTs are highly sought-after because they have preferential physical properties and tend to be much more costly on an industrial scale. So, through this study, we demonstrated that we could make very high value materials by processing the CNTs from what are, essentially, worthless waste facemasks.”

The team also studied the energy costs involved in using this process and concluded that the technique was green not only in levels of resource consumption but also in the product value generation as opposed to waste creation. Also, the Ethernet cable produced using the CNTs was good quality and adhered to Category 5 transmission speeds while easily exceeding the benchmarks set for broadband internet in most countries, including the UK.

Professor Orbaek White said:
“Using CNT films in batteries instead of metal films has a lower impact on the environment as the use of carbon offsets the need for mining and extraction activities. This is a crucial piece of work as it contributes to not only a circular economy but is also scalable and is viable for industrial processing and has green chemistry at its core.”

Source:

Swansea University

© ITM/TUD - Biomimetic fish fin with dielectric elastomer actors und fiber reinforcement.
08.11.2022

Funding for Fibre-Elastomer Composites: Intelligent materials for robotics and prostheses

  • Successful approval of the 2nd funding period of the DFG Research Training Group 2430 "Interactive fibre-elastomer composites"

Researchers based in Dresden are going to develop a completely new class of materials in which actuators and sensors are integrated directly into flexible fibre composites – contrary to the state of the art. To this end, the German Research Foundation (DFG) approved the 2nd phase of Research Training Group 2430 "Interactive Fibre-Elastomer Composites" at TU Dresden in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden. The spokesperson is Professor Chokri Cherif from the Institute for Textile Machinery and High-Performance Textile Materials Technology (ITM) at TU Dresden. A total of 22 doctoral students will be supported in eleven interdisciplinary sub-projects over the next 4.5 years, in addition to material and project funding.
 

  • Successful approval of the 2nd funding period of the DFG Research Training Group 2430 "Interactive fibre-elastomer composites"

Researchers based in Dresden are going to develop a completely new class of materials in which actuators and sensors are integrated directly into flexible fibre composites – contrary to the state of the art. To this end, the German Research Foundation (DFG) approved the 2nd phase of Research Training Group 2430 "Interactive Fibre-Elastomer Composites" at TU Dresden in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden. The spokesperson is Professor Chokri Cherif from the Institute for Textile Machinery and High-Performance Textile Materials Technology (ITM) at TU Dresden. A total of 22 doctoral students will be supported in eleven interdisciplinary sub-projects over the next 4.5 years, in addition to material and project funding.
 
As a result the simulation-based development of intelligent material combinations for so-called self-sufficient fibre composites shall be available. Actuators and sensors are already integrated into the structures and no longer placed subsequently, as it is actual the case. In the first funding phase, the important basis for the large two-dimensional deformations in soft, biomimetic structures were developed. The further funding by the DFG is a confirmation of the outstanding results achieved so far. Building on this, the second funding phase will focus on ionic and helical actuator-sensor concepts. Combined with intelligent design and control algorithms, self-sufficient, three-dimensionally deforming material systems will emerge. This will make these systems more robust, complex preforming patterns can be customised at the desired location - reversibly and contact-free.
 
Fibre composites are used increasingly in moving components due to their high specific stiffness and strengths as well as the possibility of tailoring these properties. By integrating adaptive functions into such materials, the need for subsequent actuator placement is eliminated and the robustness of the system is significantly improved. Actuators and sensors based on textiles, such as those being researched and developed at the ITM, are particularly promising in this respect, as they can be integrated directly into the fibre composites during the manufacturing process.

With their innovative properties, interactive fibre-elastomer composites are predestined for numerous fields of application in mechanical and vehicle engineering, robotics, architecture, orthotics and prosthetics: Examples include systems for precise gripping and transport processes (e.g. in hand prostheses, closures and deformable membranes) and components (e.g. trim tabs for land and water vehicles).

More information:
robot Fibers Composites Funding
Source:

TU Dresden: Institute for Textile Machinery and High Performance Textile Materials (ITM)

Photo: Marlies Thurnheer
25.10.2022

Textile Electrodes for Medtech Applications

  • Successful financing round for Empa spin-off Nahtlos

Nahtlos, an Empa spin-off, has received 1 million Swiss francs in a first round of financing from a network of business angels from Switzerland and Liechtenstein and from the Startfeld Foundation. With this funding, Nahtlos aims to drive the market entry of its newly developed textile-based electrode for medical applications.

  • Successful financing round for Empa spin-off Nahtlos

Nahtlos, an Empa spin-off, has received 1 million Swiss francs in a first round of financing from a network of business angels from Switzerland and Liechtenstein and from the Startfeld Foundation. With this funding, Nahtlos aims to drive the market entry of its newly developed textile-based electrode for medical applications.

Over the past two years, Nahtlos, an Empa spin-off, has developed novel textile-based electrodes for recording heart activity (electrocardiogram, ECG) – for example, to detect atrial fibrillation – and for electrostimulation therapies, for example, to preserve the muscle mass in paralyzed patients. Textile-based electrodes enable gentle and skin-friendly application, even if the electrodes have to be worn for several days or even weeks. The textile electrode is thus the first alternative to the gel electrode, which was developed 60 years ago and is still considered the standard for medical applications today.

Nahtlos founder and former Empa researcher Michel Schmid and co-founder and business economist José Näf have further developed the textile-based technology, which was developed and patented at Empa in various projects funded by Innosuisse, among others. The goal was to produce a product for long-term medical applications that reliably records ECG signals for up to several weeks, achieves a high level of patient acceptance and is cost-effective for the healthcare provider. Today, the patent for textile-based electrode technology is owned by Nahtlos after reaching a milestone.

Financing by business angels and Startfeld Foundation
Schmid and Näf were looking for investors to certify their product, set up production and develop the market – and recently found what they were looking for: In a seed financing round, the two young entrepreneurs were able to acquire 1 million Swiss francs from business angels from Switzerland and Liechtenstein as well as from the Startfeld Foundation. Nahtlos was supported in setting up its company by Startfeld, the start-up promotion arm of Switzerland Innovation Park Ost (SIP Ost), in the form of coaching, consulting and early-stage financing. Nahtlos is also based in the Innovation Park Ost, where innovations are initiated and accelerated through collaboration between start-ups, companies, universities and research institutions.

Together with Empa and Nahtlos, SIP Ost was present at OLMA this year. Visitors could learn live and on the spot about Empa's research activities in the field of Digital Health as well as about the Nahtlos technology and its textile electrodes for health monitoring.

Photo: Performance Days
18.10.2022

Eco Award & Performance Award for innovative winter fabrics 24/25

  • Jury presents two awards for outstanding fabric Innovation

The next PERFORMANCE DAYS will take place from November 3-4, 2022 at the MOC Ordercenter in Munich. Visitors also have the opportunity to follow the events online. Thanks to the new platform The Loop, all important information is available all year round, including current trends, new material innovations and extended tools for ease of use. The focus of the curated PERFORMANCE FORUM continues in winter honoring the winners of both awards. This year, in addition to a PERFORMANCE AWARD, the jury also presented an ECO PERFORMANCE AWARD.

  • Jury presents two awards for outstanding fabric Innovation

The next PERFORMANCE DAYS will take place from November 3-4, 2022 at the MOC Ordercenter in Munich. Visitors also have the opportunity to follow the events online. Thanks to the new platform The Loop, all important information is available all year round, including current trends, new material innovations and extended tools for ease of use. The focus of the curated PERFORMANCE FORUM continues in winter honoring the winners of both awards. This year, in addition to a PERFORMANCE AWARD, the jury also presented an ECO PERFORMANCE AWARD.

Sustainable & innovative: the award winners of the Winter 2024/25 season
As part of the winter edition of the sourcing fairs, the fabric highlights plus accessory trends in the individ-ual categories for the winter season 2024/25 will be on display at the PERFORMANCE FORUM.
 
Particularly striking this year was the high levels of innovation and quality of many submitted fabrics on the one hand, but on the other hand – also as a result of this year’s Focus Topic – the sustainable component. “We wish to enable our visitors to make the best decision in terms of material selection, also in terms of CO2 neutrality and ultimately also in terms of textile recyclability,” states Marco Weichert, CEO of PERFORMANCE DAYS.  

Nevertheless, the road to CO2 neutrality remains a long one, yet the approaches adopted with the Focus Topic ongoing until the coming spring can be seen in a positive light. In general, manufacturers are increasingly relying on the use of natural fibers when possible, such as Tencel™ or other plant fibers – most of them also prove a low CO2 balance during production. The issue of recycling comes with many new facets and wide spanning trends. The portfolio ranges from the recycling of marine waste, such as old buoys, plastic waste or fishing nets, to the recycling of waste from the automotive and computer industries, such as old car tires or computer chips. Natural dyeing methods are also gaining in importance, as is the return of fabrics to the textile cycle.

In the Marketplace, visitors have the opportunity to view over 19,000 products from exhibitors, including the fabric highlights of the individual categories at the PERFORMANCE FORUM. In order for visitors to experience the fabrics in terms of haptics, design and structure in as realistic a form as possible, the PERFORMANCE FORUM has been equipped with innovative 3D technology, including innovative tools such as 3D images, video animations and U3MA data for download.

The jury has also presented two awards for outstanding fabrics for the Winter Season 2024/25 – with the PERFORMANCE AWARD going to Long Advance Int. Co Ltd., and the ECO PERFORMANCE AWARD to PontetortoSpa.

The ECO PERFORMANCE AWARD goes to “9203/M/RC” from PontetortoSpa: High Performance despite maximum sustainability
The fabric is a blend of 23 % hemp, 69 % recycled polyester and 9 % recycled elastane. Moreover, the material boasts a low CO2 footprint during production and focuses on low release levels of microplastics into the environment. “9203/M/RC” belongs to Pontetorto's Techno Stretch organic series, which boast an excellent 4-way stretch with great elasticity. In addition, it guarantees fast drying and optimal breathability. The polyester yarn is manufactured by the mechanical recycling of plastic bottles. Hemp, the most water–repellent among natural fibers, allows for quick drying and provides optimal comfort. Hemp is considered an extremely sustainable natural fiber due to its origin from an anti–bacterial plant that requires neither pesticides nor chemical fertilizers during its growth and consumes extremely little water.

PERFORMANCE AWARD for “LPD-22015-Y4E” from Long Advanced Int. Co. Ltd.: Perfect recycling for top performance
The monocomponent 2layer fabric is a mixture of 45 % polyester mechanical stretch and 55 % recycled polyester from recycled textiles, laminated with a PET Membrane, with a weight of 147 grams.
The special feature of the “LPD 22015-Y4E” is the recycling of fabric and cutting waste. Waste is thus returned to the textile cycle and used to spin new yarn. In the future, manufacturers will have to ensure that all fabric can be recycled. Accordingly, the production of waste is then reduced by 30 % compared to conventional processes. Furthermore, the jury praised the feel and the extraordinary look of the material.

The entire PERFORMANCE FORUM including both awards can be experienced live at the fair on October 26-27, 2022 in Portland, Oregon, and in Munich at the PERFORMANCE DAYS fair on November 03-04, 2022. As of now, all innovative materials can also be found online in the Marketplace of the PERFORMANCE DAYS Loop, with the option to order free samples directly from the exhibitor.

Submarine sensors have lots to tell us about the situation below the surface. Fraunhofer IZM has mounted sensor systems on the two manta ray fins of the unmanned underwater vehicle designed by EvoLogics. (c) EvoLogics GmbH
11.10.2022

Textile Skin & Smart Sensors: Robo-Ray in Search of Munitions

Giant arsenals of unexploded ordinance are sitting on the ocean floor, lost in battle or dumped as waste. The risky job of detecting these underwater hazards is currently given to submarines specially fitted for the purpose. But even they cannot get to some of the tighter or harder to reach spots, forcing expert divers to go down and take over the often life-threatening work.

A German research consortium including Fraunhofer IZM is now using a submarine robot that is as nimble and mobile as a manta ray and equipped with innovative connected sensors on its fins to gather more information about its surroundings. It can measure water pressure so precisely that metal objects can be detected on the ocean floor, even if they are covered by sediment.

Giant arsenals of unexploded ordinance are sitting on the ocean floor, lost in battle or dumped as waste. The risky job of detecting these underwater hazards is currently given to submarines specially fitted for the purpose. But even they cannot get to some of the tighter or harder to reach spots, forcing expert divers to go down and take over the often life-threatening work.

A German research consortium including Fraunhofer IZM is now using a submarine robot that is as nimble and mobile as a manta ray and equipped with innovative connected sensors on its fins to gather more information about its surroundings. It can measure water pressure so precisely that metal objects can be detected on the ocean floor, even if they are covered by sediment.

Unmanned underwater vehicles or UUVs have been in use for several years, but high-tech pioneers for reliable underwater communication and innovative bionics like EvoLogics GmbH have let themselves be inspired by marine life like manta rays and adapted their look and technical anatomy to the submarine world.

With the enormous “wingspan” of their fins, manta rays are known to cover vast distances, while their extremely flexible vertebrae means that they can make surprisingly sharp turns on their seemingly weightless journey through the sea. Their robotic cousins can be very agile as well, but they were not smart enough yet to replace the professional divers who had to scour the sea floor for hours, looking for lost ordinance from the First or Second World War or other hazardous metal waste before offshore wind farms could be built or intercontinental cables could be put down. Now, the new robo ray will make it possible to detect submarine hazards with a whole battery of sensors.

The “Bionic RoboSkin” project, supported by Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research, is working to give the manta-shaped UUVs a flexible bionic sensor skin to help them navigate their underwater world. The skin is made from a compound fabric that is fitted with sensor elements and water-resistant connectors to supply the sensors with power and transmit their data. Researchers from Fraunhofer IZM have taken on the challenge of developing these integrated sensor modules with which the UUVs can detect touch or the proximity of objects and virtually see and analyze their surroundings. The project consortium is headed by EvoLogics GmbH and includes other experts in the field from TITV Greiz, Sensorik Bayern GmbH, the diving specialists of BALTIC Taucherei- und Bergungsbetrieb Rostock GmbH, and GEO-DV GmbH, all with one mission: To create a new generation of robots that can support their human partners with a range of semi or fully automated services and functions.

Their capabilities will not be limited to the sea: The researchers are looking at a second use case for a land-based robot sensor platform, fittingly called “Badger” or “Dachs” in German. It will navigate by GPS and be fitted with ground penetrating radar to detect metal objects below ground or conduct other ground survey work in harder to reach places (including tunneling work).

Under the robotic manta ray’s deceptively lifelike shell lies intricate technology: A permeable and therefore pressure-neutral fabric skin is created and fitted with integrated microelectronics for touch, flow, motion, and position sensors. This textile skin is then pulled tight over the robotic fins, creating a soft robotics machine that can sense its surroundings. The team at Fraunhofer IZM is responsible for the electronics that make this possible: They developed sensor nodes suitable for submersible use that can collect and pre-process the sensor data. These nodes do not only have to be fit for purpose, they also need to be extremely miniaturized to fit underneath the thin fabric skin and integrate the necessary connectors. In active operations below the waterline, these sensors can track parameters like acceleration, pressure, or absorbency. The researchers also included LEDs in the circuit board design that let the robotic manta rays communicate with human divers, for instance to signal a turn.

All of these components and sensor packages are integrated by means of a highly miniaturized embedding method and protected from the cold and wet environment by a robust case. Despite this, the footprint of the embedded modules is amazingly small at 23 x 10.5 x 1.6 mm³, fitting a complete sensor package and microcontroller in something the size of a common door key. The case itself works as a conductor by creating the mechanical and electrical contact with the sensor skin itself. The researchers chose a modular two-part design from their original vision of the product: The embedding module combines the individual electronic components on a millimeter scale for exceptional integration; the module case acts as the mechanical interface with the skin and makes the system as robust as it has to be for its destined purpose. The coupling between module and case relies on a seemingly simple clipping action: Small pins on the connector surface on the skin and tiny hooks on the sensor module itself snap together to form an easily de- and attachable interface. The resulting system is modular to allow easy reconfiguration.

The researchers at Fraunhofer IZM will now subject their robotic manta ray to a series of tests with their project partners. The results and findings from the “Bionic RoboSkin” project will likely be of use for many other projects and contribute to more pressure-neutral and reliable packaging solutions for flexible, mobile, and smarter service robots.

The “Bionic RoboSkin” project is supported through the VDI/VDE-IT by the Ministry of Education and Research (funding code 16ES0914) as part of the federal government’s research and innovation campaign 2016 to 2020 “Microelectronics from Germany – Driver of Innovation for the Digital Economy”.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM

First tests with free-form tiles made of wood short fiber filament. (Photo: LZH) Photo: LZH. First tests with free-form tiles made of wood short fiber filament.
19.09.2022

Sustainability in 3D Printing: Components made of Natural Fibers

3D printing has been in use in architecture for a while, and now it is to become ecologically sustainable as well: Together with partners, the LZH is researching how to produce individual building elements from natural fibers using additive manufacturing.

3D printing has been in use in architecture for a while, and now it is to become ecologically sustainable as well: Together with partners, the LZH is researching how to produce individual building elements from natural fibers using additive manufacturing.

In the project 3DNaturDruck, architectural components such as facade elements shall be created from natural fiber-reinforced biopolymers in 3D printing. To this end, the scientists will develop the corresponding composite materials from biopolymers with both natural short fibers and natural continuous fibers and optimize them for processing with the additive manufacturing process FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). The project partners' goal is to enable smart and innovative designs that are both ecological and sustainable.
 
The goal: highly developed components made from sustainable materials
Within the project, different natural fiber-reinforced biopolymer composites will be investigated. The partners are researching both processing methods with very short natural fibers, such as from wood and straw, and a method for printing continuous fibers from hemp and flax in combination with biopolymers. The LZH then develops processes for these new materials and adapts the tools and nozzle geometries of the FDM printer. A pavilion with the 3D-printed facade elements is planned as a demonstrator on the campus of the University of Stuttgart.
 
The project partners want to explore how additive manufacturing can be used to simplify manufacturing processes for architectural components. Natural fiber-reinforced biopolymers are particularly suitable for producing components with complex geometries in just a few steps and with low material and cost requirements. With their research, the partners are also working on completely new starting conditions for the fabrication of newly developed architectural components: For example, the topology optimization of components according to their structural stress can be easily implemented with additive manufacturing.

Enabling the natural fiber trend in architecture also using additive manufacturing
There is great interest in the use of natural fibers in structural components in architecture and construction because natural fibers have several advantages. They have good mechanical properties combined with low weight and are widely available. As a renewable resource with in some cases very short renewal cycles, they are also clearly a better ecological alternative than synthetic fibers.

In additive manufacturing, large-format elements for the architectural sector have so far mostly been manufactured with polymers based on fossil raw materials. Research in the project 3DNaturDruck should now make the use of natural fibers in architecture possible for additive manufacturing as well.

About 3DNaturDruck
The project 3DNaturDruck is about the design and fabrication of 3D-printed components made of biocomposites using filaments with continuous and short natural fibers.

The project is coordinated by the Department of Biobased Materials and Materials Cycles in Architecture (BioMat) at the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart. In addition to the LZH, project partners include the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut (WKI) and the industrial companies Rapid Prototyping Technologie GmbH (Gifhorn), ETS Extrusionstechnik (Mücheln), 3dk.berlin (Berlin) and ATMAT Sp. Z o.o. (Krakow, Poland).

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture through the Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. under the funding code 2220NR295C.

Source:

Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

(c) Messe München GmbH
16.08.2022

ISPO Shanghai: Record number of visitors in new location

With a record of nearly 21,000 specialist visitors as well as 350 brands from 200 exhibiting companies, ISPO Shanghai took place as a one-off happening in the Nanjing International Exhibition Center (NIEC) from 29 to 31 July, 2022.

ISPO Shanghai presented the latest trends and innovative products from the areas of camping lifestyle, outdoors and running as well as health and fitness, watersports, climbing, surfing, boxing and yoga in the Nanjing International Exhibition Center (NIEC). The key topics of textiles and technology, sports design, and e-commerce were newly integrated, further strengthening ISPO Shanghai’s position as one of the most important sports and lifestyle trade fairs in the Asia-Pacific region.

With a record of nearly 21,000 specialist visitors as well as 350 brands from 200 exhibiting companies, ISPO Shanghai took place as a one-off happening in the Nanjing International Exhibition Center (NIEC) from 29 to 31 July, 2022.

ISPO Shanghai presented the latest trends and innovative products from the areas of camping lifestyle, outdoors and running as well as health and fitness, watersports, climbing, surfing, boxing and yoga in the Nanjing International Exhibition Center (NIEC). The key topics of textiles and technology, sports design, and e-commerce were newly integrated, further strengthening ISPO Shanghai’s position as one of the most important sports and lifestyle trade fairs in the Asia-Pacific region.

Due to the difficult pandemic situation, the meeting of the Asian sports and outdoors community at ISPO Shanghai 2022 took place in Nanjing for one time only. It achieved a new record with 21,000 specialist visitors, reflecting the industry’s determination to present and develop sporting goods and related industries together even in difficult times. For comparison, 17,800 visitors came in 2020, and 19,000 the following year. The many sports professionals and sports fans, as well as up-and-coming sports and free-time trends such as camping, surfing and frisbee, demonstrated the numerous possibilities in the sports market and underlined the fact that even the outdoors sector is booming following the coronavirus pandemic.

The industry discussed innovations and new opportunities at the five big topic forums – namely the summit for the sustainable development of the outdoors industry in the Asia-Pacific region, the trend forum for sports fashion, the innovation salon for the outdoor sports industry, the summit for cross-border e-commerce in the Chinese sporting goods industry and for fitness and rehabilitation.

The main focus was on the topic of sustainability. ISPO has been driving this topic for years: Starting with the “Brands for Good” initiative in 2018, ISPO offers not only a platform for brands’ initiatives on sustainable development, but also actively participates in the discussion about sustainable products and their production.

Tobias Gröber, Executive Director of the Consumer Goods Business Unit at Messe München and Head of the ISPO Group, says: “The urban sports style that we showed at ISPO Shanghai this year, including frisbee, surfing and climbing, is continuing to develop. Seasons and categories are becoming increasingly blurred, which is why we will continue to expand the product segments on our Chinese platforms and pursue a cross-category approach. In future, ISPO will concentrate on expanding its offering and will also include new sports and outdoor topics such as cycling and off-road vehicles.”

The next ISPO Shanghai will be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center (SNIEC) again in June 2023, while ISPO Beijing 2022 will take place from December 9 to 11, 2022 at the National Convention Center in Beijing.

Source:

Messe München GmbH

(c) Fraunhofer IKTS
02.08.2022

Fraunhofer technology: High-tech vest monitors lung function

Patients with severe respiratory or lung diseases require intensive treatment and their lung function needs to be monitored on a continuous basis. As part of the Pneumo.Vest project, Fraunhofer researchers have developed a technology whereby noises in the lungs are recorded using a textile vest with integrated acoustic sensors. The signals are then converted and displayed visually using software. In this way, patients outside of intensive care units can still be monitored continuously. The technology increases the options for diagnosis and improves the patient’s quality of life.

For over 200 years, the stethoscope has been a standard tool for doctors and, as such, is a symbol of the medical profession. In television hospital dramas, doctors are seen rushing through the halls with a stethoscope around their neck. Experienced doctors do indeed use them to listen very accurately to heartbeats and the lungs and, as a result, to diagnose illnesses.

Patients with severe respiratory or lung diseases require intensive treatment and their lung function needs to be monitored on a continuous basis. As part of the Pneumo.Vest project, Fraunhofer researchers have developed a technology whereby noises in the lungs are recorded using a textile vest with integrated acoustic sensors. The signals are then converted and displayed visually using software. In this way, patients outside of intensive care units can still be monitored continuously. The technology increases the options for diagnosis and improves the patient’s quality of life.

For over 200 years, the stethoscope has been a standard tool for doctors and, as such, is a symbol of the medical profession. In television hospital dramas, doctors are seen rushing through the halls with a stethoscope around their neck. Experienced doctors do indeed use them to listen very accurately to heartbeats and the lungs and, as a result, to diagnose illnesses.

Now, the stethoscope is getting some help. As part of the Pneumo.Vest project, researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS at the Berlin office have developed a textile vest with integrated acoustic sensors, presenting a high-performance addition to the traditional stethoscope. Piezoceramic acoustic sensors have been incorporated into the front and back of the vest to register any noise produced by the lungs in the thorax, no matter how small. A software program records the signals and electronically amplifies them, while the lungs are depicted visually on a display. As the software knows the position of each individual sensor, it can attribute the data to its precise location. This produces a detailed acoustic and optical picture of the ventilation situation of all parts of the lungs. Here is what makes it so special: As the system collects and stores the data permanently, examinations can take place at any given time and in the absence of hospital staff. Pneumo.Vest also indicates the status of the lungs over a period of time, for example over the previous 24 hours. Needless to say, traditional auscultation can also be carried out directly on the patients. However, instead of carrying out auscultation manually at different points with a stethoscope, a number of sensors are used simultaneously.

“Pneumo.Vest is not looking to make the stethoscope redundant and does not replace the skills of experienced pneumologists. However, auscultation or even CT scans of the lungs only ever present a snapshot at the time of the examination. Our technology provides added value because it allows for the lungs to be monitored continuously in the same way as a long-term ECG, even if the patient is not attached to machines in the ICU but has instead been admitted to the general ward,” explains Ralf Schallert, project manager at Fraunhofer IKTS.

Machine learning algorithms aid with diagnosis
Alongside the acoustic sensors, the software is at the core of the vest. It is responsible for storing, depicting and analyzing the data. It can be used by the doctor to view the acoustic events in specific individual areas of the lungs on the display. The use of algorithms in digital signal processing enables a targeted evaluation of acoustic signals. This means it is possible, for example, to filter out heartbeats or to amplify characteristic frequency ranges, making lung sounds, such as rustling or wheezing, much easier to hear.

On top of this, the researchers at Fraunhofer IKTS are developing machine learning algorithms. In the future, these will be able to structure and classify complex ambient noises in the thorax. Then, the pneumologist will carry out the final assessment and diagnosis.

Discharge from the ICU
Patients can also benefit from the digital sensor alternative. When wearing the vest, they can recover without requiring constant observation from medical staff. They can transfer to the general ward and possibly even be sent home and move about more or less freely. Despite this, the lungs are monitored continuously, and any sudden deterioration can be reported to medical personnel straight away.

The first tests with staff at the University Clinic for Anesthesiology and Intensive Therapy at the University of Magdeburg have shown that the concept is successful in practice. “The feedback from doctors was overwhelmingly positive. The combination of acoustic sensors, visualization and machine learning algorithms will be able to reliably distinguish a range of different lung sounds,” explains Schallert. Dr. Alexander Uhrig from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is also pleased with the technology. The specialist in infectiology and pneumology at the renowned Charité hospital was one of those who initiated the idea: “Pneumo.Vest addresses exactly what we need. It serves as an instrument that expands our diagnostic options, relieves the burden on our hospital staff and makes hospital stays more pleasant for patients.”

The technology was initially designed for respiratory patients, but it also works well for people in care facilities and for use in sleep laboratories. It can also be used to train young doctors in auscultation.

Increased need for clinical-grade wearables
With Pneumo.Vest, the researchers at Fraunhofer IKTS have developed a product that is cut out for the increasingly strained situation at hospitals. In Germany, 385,000 patients with respiratory or lung diseases require inpatient treatment every year. Over 60 percent are connected to a ventilator for more than 24 hours. This figure does not account for the current increase in respiratory patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of increasing life expectancy, the medical industry also expects the number of older patients with breathing problems to increase. With the help of technology from Fraunhofer IKTS, the burden on hospitals and, in particular, costly ICUs can be relieved as their beds will no longer be occupied for quite as long.

It should be added that the market for such clinical-grade wearables is growing rapidly. These are compact medical devices that can be worn directly on the body to measure vital signs such as heartbeat, blood oxygen saturation, respiratory rate or skin temperature. As a medical device that can be used flexibly, Pneumo.Vest fits in perfectly with this development. But do not worry: Doctors will still be using the beloved stethoscope in the future.

Fraunhofer “M³ Infekt” cluster project
Pneumo.Vest is just one part of the extensive M³ Infekt cluster project. Its objective is to develop monitoring systems for the decentralized monitoring of patients. The current basis of the project is the treatment of COVID-19 patients. With the SARS-CoV2 virus, it is common for even mild cases to suddenly deteriorate significantly. By continuously monitoring vital signs, any deterioration in condition can be quickly identified and prompt measures for treatment can be taken.

M3 Infekt can also be used for a number of other symptoms and scenarios. The systems have been designed to be modular and multimodal so that biosignals such as heart rate, ECG, oxygen saturation, or respiratory rate and volume can be measured, depending on the patient and illness.

A total of ten Fraunhofer institutes are working on the cluster project under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Dresden. Klinikum Magdeburg, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the University Hospitals of Erlangen and Dresden are involved as clinical partners.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technology and Systems IKTS

photo: pexels
26.07.2022

Composites Germany – Results of the 19th Market Survey

  • Current crises are dampening mood in composites industry
  • Pessimistic outlook
  • Subdued investment climate
  • Varying expectations for application industries
  • GRP is still a growth driver
  • Composites Index continues to decline

This is the 19th time that Composites Germany has identified the latest performance indicators for the fibre-reinforced plastics market. The survey covered all the member companies of the three major umbrella organisations of Composites Germany: AVK, Leichtbau Baden-Württemberg and the VDMA Working Group on Hybrid Lightweight Construction Technologies.

As before, to ensure a smooth comparison with the previous surveys, the questions in this half-yearly survey have been left unchanged. Once again, the data obtained in the survey is largely qualitative and relates to current and future developments in the market.

  • Current crises are dampening mood in composites industry
  • Pessimistic outlook
  • Subdued investment climate
  • Varying expectations for application industries
  • GRP is still a growth driver
  • Composites Index continues to decline

This is the 19th time that Composites Germany has identified the latest performance indicators for the fibre-reinforced plastics market. The survey covered all the member companies of the three major umbrella organisations of Composites Germany: AVK, Leichtbau Baden-Württemberg and the VDMA Working Group on Hybrid Lightweight Construction Technologies.

As before, to ensure a smooth comparison with the previous surveys, the questions in this half-yearly survey have been left unchanged. Once again, the data obtained in the survey is largely qualitative and relates to current and future developments in the market.

Current crises are dampening mood in composites industry
Both the economy in general and industry in particular are struggling with numerous challenges at the moment. The Covid-19 pandemic has now had a negative impact for over two years and is still affecting a range of segments of the composites industry. One area that has been hit especially hard by the resulting losses is the mobility sector. Another major strain has been a sharp rise in energy costs recently. Above all, we can expect price increases in fuel and gas to become a central issue over the next few months. In addition, there are still problems along international supply chains, coupled with steep increases in raw material prices, partly due to bottlenecks in the supply. The war in Ukraine has put an additional strain on many business sectors, affecting their supply chains, in particular.

In the current survey, both these and other effects have had a major negative impact on the mood in the composites industry.

The assessment index for the current general economic situation is showing a clear decline.

Compared to the last survey, the assessment of the respondents’ own business situations has dropped significantly and for the first time in eighteen months. However, this decline has been far less severe than during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pessimistic outlook
Furthermore, there has been a substantial decline in expectations for the future market development. The key figures for the general economic situation have been declining sharply and have reached an all-time low since the beginning of the survey. The respondents are also less optimistic about future expectations for their own companies.

However, respondents are less extreme when assessing the business situations of their own companies. Despite negative spikes, this curve is far less steep, showing that respondents are expecting less dramatic effects on their own companies than on the industry as a whole.

Subdued investment situation
Although, as expected, the investment climate has also become subdued, it should be noted that, in all, expectations are still relatively high. 70% of all respondents believe that machine investments are possible, or they are planning for it. This figure is somewhat lower than in the previous market survey, but it shows a far less dramatic development than the other factors mentioned above .

Varied expectations for application industries
We already mentioned the high level of heterogeneity of applications in the composite sector. In the survey, respondents were asked to provide assessments of market developments in various core sectors.

Their expectations clearly differ substantially from one another.

The proportion of pessimistic expectations has generally been rising for all application industries. While these expectations are almost entirely within a single-digit range, there has been a clear rise in the proportion of those expecting a deterioration of the market in the various application industries. Similar to the last surveys, major drops are expected above all for the automotive, aviation and mechanical engineering sectors. For the first time, however, we can now also see rather negative expectations on the infrastructure and building sector. Yet this is a segment which often reacts quite slowly to temporary economic fluctuations and has so far shown itself to be relatively resilient towards the above-mentioned crises. It remains to be seen whether such forebodings will come true, or whether the construction industry will continue to hold its own in the face of the current negative forces.

Growth drivers remain stable
Geographically, the survey shows that the most important growth stimuli for the composites segment are expected to come from Germany, Europe and Asia.

Where materials are concerned, we are seeing a continuation of the ongoing paradigm shift. Whereas, in the first 13 surveys, respondents always mentioned CRP as the material with the most important growth drivers in its environment, the most important stimuli are now being expected to come consistently either from GRP or from all materials.

Composites Index continues to decline
The industry is currently going through an extremely tense and difficult period, characterised by rising costs, supply chain issues, lack of availability of certain semifinished products and raw materials, increasing political instability and very pessimistic expectations for the future. All the relevant indicators of the current composites survey are pointing downwards at the moment. After some slight recovery over the last 18 months, the Composite Index has therefore clearly been weakening this time and has been dropping to new low points, especially concerning future expectations.

Industry in general, but particularly also Germany’s composite industry, has always shown itself to be very resilient towards crises and has often cushioned negative developments quickly. The total production volume for composites in Europe last year already reached its pre-crisis level of 2019. Germany continues to be the most important manufacturing country in Europe, with a market share of nearly 20%. Hopefully, the slowdown in the coming months will be less severe than expected and the composites industry will remain on an upward trajectory. We will continue to be optimistic, as composites are highly diverse and therefore a key material of the future.

The next Composites Market Survey will be published in January 2023.

Source:

Composites Germany

Photo: Pixabay
19.07.2022

The future of fashion: Revolution between fast and slow fashion

The fashion industry is massively influenced by the change in social values. Which trends can be observed and in which direction is the fashion future developing - an excerpt from the Retail Report 20231 by Theresa Schleicher.

The fashion industry is massively influenced by the change in social values. Which trends can be observed and in which direction is the fashion future developing - an excerpt from the Retail Report 20231 by Theresa Schleicher.

The fashion industry has been slowed down by the global health pandemic and further affected by the measures taken in the wake of the Ukraine war: Fragile supply chains, increased transportation and energy costs, and rising prices are having an impact on the globalized fashion industry. Those who were moving the fastest are being hit the hardest. Fast fashion based on the principle of "faster and faster, cheaper and cheaper, more and more" - which has been in the fast lane for years - is now experiencing an unprecedented crash. Even without these momentous events, the fashion system would have reached its limits. What could have developed evolutionarily is now being revolutionized. Now and in the future, it will be particularly difficult for brands and retail companies that do not have a sharp profile or that have lost many customers in the attempt to offer mass-produced goods at prices that are still lower than those of their competitors.

New value paradigm in society - also for fashion
While fashion retailers and fashion brands are focusing on expanding online and have been putting their foot on the gas pedal since the corona pandemic at the latest, a parallel change in values is taking place in society. Many behaviors that have been practiced, tested and lived for months will continue to shape our consumer behavior and lifestyles in the future. The uncertainty in society as well as a shrinking economy and rising consumer prices as a result of the Ukraine war will further contribute to this shift in values.

The old paradigm was "primarily shaped by pragmatic factors such as price, quantity, safety and convenience, so consumer behavior was predominantly based on relatively simple cost-benefit calculations." The new value paradigm, on the other hand, is more strongly influenced by "soft factors". For example, the quality of a product is defined more holistically. In addition to price, "ecological, [...] ethical and social aspects are also taken into account. It is about positive or negative experiences that one has had with producers and about the visions that they pursue with their companies". This new value paradigm is forcing the large chain stores in particular to rethink. They have to develop their business models further in the direction of sustainability, transparency and responsibility - and show attitude. The influence of the neo-ecology megatrend combined with the push towards the sense economy is reshuffling the cards in the fashion industry.

The most important driver for the change in consumer behavior is climate protection, which is also becoming personally more important to more and more people because they are feeling the effects of climate change themselves in their everyday lives. The transition to a sustainable, bio-based and circular economy is accompanied by fundamental changes in the technical, economic and social environment.

Circular fashion as an opportunity for fast fashion
The development of the fashion industry - especially the fast fashion industry - towards a more circular economy is not a short-term trend, but one of the most long-term and at the same time forward-looking trends in retailing of all.

Even before the pandemic, a growing proportion of consumers placed value on sustainably produced clothing instead of constantly shopping the latest trends. A reset is needed, but the fashion industry faces a difficult question: How can it respond to the demand for new trends without neglecting its responsibility for the environment?

The solution for reducing emissions and conserving raw materials and resources seems obvious: produce less. On average, 2,700 liters of water are needed to produce a T-shirt - that much drinking water would last a person for two and a half years. In Europe, each person buys an average of 26 kilograms of textiles per year - and disposes eleven kilograms. Of this, almost 90 percent is incinerated or ends up in landfills. Overproduction, precarious working conditions during production and the use of non-sustainable materials are the major problems of the fast fashion industry. It is time to slow down fast fashion.

Fashion recycling by Design & Recycling as a Service
A first step towards keeping fashion and textiles in the cycle for longer is to recycle materials properly. In the future, recycling must be considered as early as the design stage - not only for sustainably produced fashion, but also for fast fashion. The H&M Group, for example, developed the Circulator for this purpose: The digital evaluation tool guides the designer through materials, components and design strategies that are best suited for the product depending on its purpose, and evaluates them in terms of their environmental impact, durability and recyclability.

However, more and more young companies are specializing in offering recycling for textiles as a service. They work directly with fashion retailers or fashion brands to enable the best possible recycling, re-circulation or even upcycling. Until now, it has not been worthwhile for large textile companies to invest in their own recycling systems. But Recycling as a Service is a market of the future, led by innovative start-ups such as Resortecs that are tackling previous hurdles in our recycling system. In the future, more and more new service providers will pop up around returns and recycling and help fashion retailers to align their material cycles more sustainably.

Secondhand conquers the fast fashion market
Another way to extend the life of clothing is to pass it on to new users. We are witnessing the triumph of vintage, retro and more - chic secondhand stores and chains like Resales and Humana are popping up everywhere. The renaming of secondhand to pre-owned or pre-loved also illustrates the increased appreciation of worn clothing. The trend toward secondhand also pays off economically for companies: The number of platforms whose business model revolves around the resale of clothing is increasing, and secondhand fashion is arriving in the middle of society. The luxury segment and especially vintage fashion are stable in price because the availability of these unique pieces is limited. Fast fashion, on the other hand, is available in sufficient quantities and is particularly interesting for price-sensitive customers, as secondhand is considered one of the most sustainable forms of consumption - meaning that fashion can be shopped with a clear conscience - and is usually even offered at a lower price than new goods. The second-hand market will continue to professionalize and become more socially acceptable. As a result, the fast fashion industry will also be forced to produce higher quality clothing in order to become or remain part of the circular system.

Slow fashion gains momentum thanks to technology
The development and orientation of fast fashion towards circular processes is also changing sustainable fashion. In the future, fast fashion and slow fashion can learn from each other to fully exploit their potential: fast fashion will become more sustainable, while slow fashion will focus on faster availability and delivery and make the customer experience as pleasant as possible. Fast and slow fashion are no longer compelling opposites - because the sustainable fashion movement can also benefit from technological innovations that are being established above all by the fashion platforms, and lift slow fashion to a new level.

At the same time, Sustainable Luxury is a new form of luxury consumption - especially in the field of designer fashion, sustainability is becoming the all-important criterion. Sustainability as a means of distinction for true luxury and sustainability as a basic prerequisite for a functioning fashion industry are increasingly converging. This is where the transition between a slowdown of fast fashion and an acceleration of slow fashion takes place.

Trend Sustainable Luxury
Luxury is defined less and less by the object and its possession and is increasingly becoming an expression of one's own lifestyle and values. Consumers' understanding of premium and luxury has changed - not least driven by the neo-ecology megatrend. In the future, it will no longer be just about owning something as expensive and ostentatious as possible. What began as a rebellion against careless consumption of luxury brands that promise high-end products but accept unfair and environmentally damaging manufacturing conditions in the process has increasingly become accepted as a value attitude. Luxury products have no less a claim than to improve the world.

Sustainable and ethical products and services made from innovative materials that have the power to solve problems and make the world a better place. At the same time, this highly ethically and morally charged form of sustainability is turning into a means of distinction: For the materials are so new, the manufacturing processes still so experimental, that the products are unique and often only available in very small quantities or on order. And this exclusive sustainability naturally comes at a price. After all, a company that pursues a mission is not concerned with simply cutting costs - certainly not at the expense of others or the environment. Instead of leather and fur, luxury fashion is now made from oranges, pineapples, hemp, cacti: there are more and more new, innovative and sustainable materials from which unique garments and accessories can be made.

Predictive, Pre-Order & Made-to-Order
Artificial intelligence and Big Data analysis can help predict fashion demand. Fast fashion leaders like Shein are characterized by agile production which is supported by AI algorithms for trend prediction fed with data from TikTok and other social media services. This could sustainably reduce overproduction and unsaleable goods in the future. As critical as Shein's practices are, the automation of processes also offers immense opportunities for a more sustainable fashion industry, as production only starts when goods are in demand.

AI support in the design process can be used to produce more sustainable fashion - and make it available more quickly. In a future of an avatar economy and in the world of virtual influencers, it may even be possible to dispense with part of the production process: Fashion will remain virtual - and thus more resource-efficient. Digital fashion will become increasingly important as the metaverse is built.

5 Key Takeaways on the Future of Fashion

  1. The current crisis in the fashion industry is an opportunity to move more in the direction of circular fashion. Above all, the new value paradigm in society, understanding quality more holistically and consuming more mindfully, is providing a push towards fairer, more ecological and more social fashion. Fast fashion and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.
  2. There are already first approaches to keep fast fashion in the cycle longer or to return it to the cycle. One important development is to consider recycling or reuse as early as the design and manufacturing process - known as recycling by design. In addition, there is a growing number of start-ups specializing in the optimized recycling of textiles and cooperating with major fashion players.
  3. Above all, the booming online trade in used fashion, often communicated as the pre-loved or pre-owned category, is making secondhand respectable for the mainstream. Such fashion, with a story and an aura of uniqueness, is also a cost-effective but more sustainable alternative to fast fashion.
  4. But slow fashion is also changing, especially due to the dominance of new technologies. Slow fashion can also benefit from processes that are currently manifesting themselves in the online fashion market, such as fast delivery or pre-order services. Slow fashion thus becomes more convenient, better and faster available. It will be easier for sustainably oriented fashion enthusiasts to consume according to their values and attitudes.
  5. The trend toward sustainable luxury continues: Sustainability as a means of distinction for a new form of luxury enables alternative manufacturing processes and innovative materials in the luxury fashion market. These are being showcased by an avant-garde and, if they prove successful, adapted by fast fashion.

1https://onlineshop.zukunftsinstitut.de/shop/retail-report-2023/

Source:

Retail Report 2023 | Theresa Schleicher, Janine Seitz | June 2022

Photo: Pixabay
12.07.2022

Study on Click & Collect in the Fashion Industry

Study reveals need for action

How well are online and in-store businesses linked in the German fashion industry? How smoothly do omnichannel models like click & collect work? And how satisfactory is this for consumers? These questions were addressed by the Cologne-based company fulfillmenttools as part of its study "Click & Collect in the German Fashion Industry".

Study reveals need for action

How well are online and in-store businesses linked in the German fashion industry? How smoothly do omnichannel models like click & collect work? And how satisfactory is this for consumers? These questions were addressed by the Cologne-based company fulfillmenttools as part of its study "Click & Collect in the German Fashion Industry".

For the study, around 80 of the largest fashion retailers in Germany were examined in the first and second quarters of 2022. Of these, 22 companies in the sample offered Click & Collect as part of their service portfolio and could be analyzed in detail as part of test purchases. The mystery shoppers focused on how Click & Collect orders are processed via the retailers' online stores, the shopping experience when picking up the merchandise at the stores, and the handling of the returns process. The result: there is a clear need for optimization in all steps. According to the study, none of the retailers analyzed is currently in a position to offer its customers a consistent and convenient omnichannel experience.

In the fashion industry in particular, Click & Collect allows customers to benefit from on-site service and the convenience of online shopping. Immediate fitting, simple returns and no shipping costs are just a selection of the many advantages. Last but not least, the restrictions imposed in the wake of the Corona pandemic have accelerated the spread of Click & Collect in the retail sector. But how well does it work and how is it perceived by customers? "There is currently still a lack of data in operational practice that illustrates how well Click & Collect is implemented in reality from the customer's point of view. That's why we took a closer look at the status quo of Click & Collect models in the German fashion industry," says project manager Marleen Ratert.

In the study of around 80 of the largest fashion retailers in Germany, it was initially surprising that only 22 of the 80 (27%) retailers surveyed offer Click & Collect as an option for their customers in their service portfolio.

In analyzing and evaluating the companies that offer Click & Collect, the focus was on the entire journey of a customer order: ordering process, communication, pickup, returns processing and refunding.

According to the study's authors, a positive aspect is that the ordering process in the online store runs smoothly at most fashion retailers. However, customer communication before, during and after the click & collect order process was generally deficient. Missing order confirmations and non-existent information about delivery time and pick-up time were particularly negative.

he German fashion retailers performed worst in the area of the collection process. In particular, long delivery times, a lack of service points at the point of sale, and forms that have to be filled out by hand are the main reasons for dissatisfaction with the pickup process. In the area of returns processing, it was primarily the lack of digitization of the process that stood out: A large proportion still work with manual forms. However, the majority of fashion retailers in Germany have no problems processing the payment afterwards.

Monolithic IT structures, different solutions for many operational areas, traditional processes, missing interfaces - the reasons for the problems with the quick and easy introduction of omnichannel processes are numerous on the part of the companies. The demands of customers, on the other hand, have risen rapidly in recent years.

The checklist for successful omnichannel retailers provides tips and tricks for optimizing online and offline business in a process- and customer-oriented manner:

SIMPLIFY ONLINE ORDERS

  • Prominently feature Click & Collect as a service in the online store in order to draw customers' attention to it more quickly and fully exploit sales potentials
  • Improve availability of Click & Collect products

CREATE SEAMLESS IN-STORE EXPERIENCES

  • Install service points for picking up orders and clearly mark them as such to avoid waiting times at the checkout and provide customers with better orientation
  • Make store staff aware of upselling and cross-selling opportunities to encourage additional purchases

OPTIMIZE PROCESSES

  • Pick online orders in the store to significantly speed up delivery times and easily meet delivery promises
  • Digitize handover and return processes to make store operations more efficient and reduce the workload on staff
  • Regularly test omnichannel processes to identify gaps in communication and potential for optimization

IMPROVE SERVICE QUALITY

  • Implement end-to-end communication throughout the process to keep customers informed about the status of their order at all times
  • Offer various return options to best meet customer expectations

Modular software-as-a-service solutions for fulfillment processes are available to simplify complex processes for retailers, reduce the workload of employees and prevent errors in order picking. The entire study (in German) is available for download here.

Source:

fulfillmenttools.com / REWE digital

(c) Messe Karlsruhe, Jürgen Rösner
05.07.2022

The dream of owning a small home - or: How will we live tomorrow?

For the house and home textiles industry, the question is what consequences the current living trends will have for their furnishing concepts in the future: Adaptive habitat and modular houses, cohousing, senior citizens' residences or villages, between long-stay apartments, which are experiencing great growth in the hotel sector, and tiny houses for private users, suppliers will develop new ideas.

Since 2018, Messe Karlsruhe has been organizing Europe's largest Tiny House Festival. The NEW HOUSING - Tiny House Festival underlines the great interest in the Tiny House living trend.

For the house and home textiles industry, the question is what consequences the current living trends will have for their furnishing concepts in the future: Adaptive habitat and modular houses, cohousing, senior citizens' residences or villages, between long-stay apartments, which are experiencing great growth in the hotel sector, and tiny houses for private users, suppliers will develop new ideas.

Since 2018, Messe Karlsruhe has been organizing Europe's largest Tiny House Festival. The NEW HOUSING - Tiny House Festival underlines the great interest in the Tiny House living trend.

From 01 to 03 July 2022, around 7,000 Tiny House enthusiasts - significantly more than expected - came together at Messe Karlsruhe to experience the diversity and range of small, alternative forms of living. In a Tiny House village of 25 small houses on the open-air grounds of Messe Karlsruhe, they had the opportunity to network with each other and to find out and exchange information about living in the smallest of spaces from manufacturers, suppliers, self-builders, organizations and associations.

"The NEW HOUSING - Tiny House Festival pays outstanding attention to the trend towards sustainable living and thus has a forward-looking effect, especially here in Karlsruhe. As organizer of the festival and at the same time as initiator of the Tiny House Association, we bring the community together and set an example for smart developments in the topics of building and living," says Britta Wirtz, Managing Director of Messe Karlsruhe.

Project manager Frank Thieme adds: "Tiny Houses create quality living space on small areas that are not suitable for classic residential development, for example because they are only available temporarily. Here, the festival serves the trend of sustainable use of land to create living space and drives the development towards lower resource consumption and the use of innovative building materials."

On the open-air grounds of Messe Karlsruhe, companies were there to answer questions and provide first-hand information. Exhibitors from all over Germany were present, including market leaders as well as carpentry shops and start-ups that have built up a second mainstay with the construction of Tiny Houses.

For the first time, companies from other European countries, including Latvia, Poland and Belgium, also presented themselves. A new element in 2022 was an information mile in the entrance area of the trade fair with a wide range of advisory services for future Tiny House residents as well as suppliers and outfitters.

There, regional Tiny House organizations and the Tiny House Association, among others, were there to answer questions and provide information about their work. Regina Schleyer, chairwoman of the board of the Tiny House Association, which structurally represents over 2,000 members in German-speaking countries, says: "The number of visitors is really overwhelming. The interest is very high, people are very open-minded and interested in the association. We succeeded in presenting what local offers are being developed in the associations nationwide. We are truly very satisfied with the fair, a complete success."

The visitors traveled to Karlsruhe from all over Germany and beyond its borders to find out about small alternative forms of living. They particularly appreciated the opportunity to meet the manufacturers in person and to visit the Tiny Houses on site.

The lecture program at the festival complemented the exhibition and offered insights into successful self-build stories, topics such as self-sufficiency, sustainability and finding a suitable site, as well as informative literature. Topic-relevant lectures with experts shared tips and tricks as well as experiences within the Tiny House community.

The next NEW HOUSING - Tiny House Festival will take place from June 30 to July 2, 2023 at Messe Karlsruhe.

Source:

Messe Karlsruhe / Textination

Photo: Pixabay
28.06.2022

Individual plastic budget - Fraunhofer UMSICHT presents study results

When plastics enter the environment, this brings with it many negative effects: these range from suffocating living organisms to transfer within the food chain and physical effects on an ecosystem. In addition, there are dangers from the release of additives, monomers and critical intermediates of metabolic processes, the metabolites.

How great the long-term impact of plastic emissions actually is, is not yet clear at the present time. In order to create a political decision-making basis for dealing with plastic emissions, researchers from Fraunhofer UMSICHT and the Ruhr University Bochum have therefore developed a budget approach and an LCA impact assessment methodology in the "PlastikBudget" project from December 2017 to the end of August 2021. The researchers have now completed the project. The result: When driving a car, a person emits more than half of their individual plastic emission budget through tire wear.

When plastics enter the environment, this brings with it many negative effects: these range from suffocating living organisms to transfer within the food chain and physical effects on an ecosystem. In addition, there are dangers from the release of additives, monomers and critical intermediates of metabolic processes, the metabolites.

How great the long-term impact of plastic emissions actually is, is not yet clear at the present time. In order to create a political decision-making basis for dealing with plastic emissions, researchers from Fraunhofer UMSICHT and the Ruhr University Bochum have therefore developed a budget approach and an LCA impact assessment methodology in the "PlastikBudget" project from December 2017 to the end of August 2021. The researchers have now completed the project. The result: When driving a car, a person emits more than half of their individual plastic emission budget through tire wear.

How big is the long-term impact of plastic emissions?
Six percent of global petroleum consumption goes to the plastics industry - and the trend is rising. While the plastics industry is an important economic factor in many countries, more and more plastic waste ends up in soils and oceans. Mostly in the form of highly mobile, small to large plastic fragments, plastic emissions can no longer be recovered from the environment. At the same time, the long-term effects of plastic in the environment are hardly predictable.

Due to the global and cross-generational dimension of the problem, it is important that science, industry and consumers work together to find a solution. One goal of the joint project PlastikBudget is therefore to quantify today's plastic emissions and to derive a plastic emissions budget. On this basis, the researchers can formulate quantitative emission targets that can be used to legitimize political decisions. In particular, the path from empirically verified data and normative values to a concrete emissions budget forms the core objective of the project.

From research to per capita emissions budget
Starting with a basic research on plastic quantities in the environment, the project addresses two major topics: The development of a budget approach and the development of an impact assessment method that can be used in life cycle assessments to consider potential environmental impacts of plastic emissions. Participatory formats complete the project. In this way, the results are anchored in political and scientific discourse. In the course of the project, the researchers will answer the following questions: What quantities of plastic are currently being discharged and what quantities have already accumulated? What quantities of plastic in the environment are still acceptable? How long does it take for plastics to degrade in real environmental compartments? How are the risks posed by different plastic emissions adequately represented? Finally, from the answers, they calculate a value for current emissions and what they consider to be an acceptable emissions budget.

250 million tonnes of PPE for 7.8 billion people
To measure plastic pollution, the researchers in the PlastikBudget project have developed the persistence-weighted plastic emission equivalent (PPE for short). This represents a virtual mass that takes into account the period of time until a specific plastic emission is degraded, e.g. in soil, freshwater or seawater. Relevant properties for this are the location of the emission, the material type, the shape of the plastic emission as well as the size of the emitted plastic part and the final environmental compartment in which the plastic remains. In the case of plastics that degrade completely within one year, the plastic emission equivalent corresponds to the real mass. If the degradation time is longer, it increases accordingly.

"Based on the thesis that the total amount of plastics already accumulated in the environment today has just reached a critical quantity, we were able to calculate a global plastic emission budget of 250 million tonnes of PPE," explains Jürgen Bertling, project manager of the project and scientist at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. "If each of the 7.8 billion people is allocated the same emission rights, this results in an individual budget of 31.9 kilograms of PPE per person and year."

Driving consumes half of the individual plastic budget
However, tire wear from driving alone corresponds to a plastic emission equivalent of 16.5 kg PPE per year and thus consumes more than 50 per cent of an individual's budget. Even waste from ten coffee-to-go disposable cups would consume 13.5 kg of PPE per year, more than a third of one's budget. "This is because the plastics used in disposable cups are more difficult to degrade than the rubber in the tire," explains Jan Blömer from Fraunhofer UMSICHT, who played a key role in developing the calculation methodology. The consumption of a coil of polyamide for a lawn trimmer, which releases microplastics when used, also weighs in considerably at 5.1 kilograms of PPE. Microbeads in cosmetics or the one-time sanding of a front door, on the other hand, consume significantly less of the individual emissions budget with 1.1 kg PPE and 0.5 kg PPE, but are still quite relevant in the overall balance.

Many other everyday activities also lead to plastic emissions. Nevertheless, the researchers show that the calculated budget limits can be met in various scenarios. However, such a scenario also entails considerable effort and massive changes in the way we deal with plastics today. One possible scenario to meet the budget would be a reduction of emissions by more than 50 per cent, if at the same time at least 50 per cent of all emissions consisted of readily degradable plastics.

Further work on accounting for plastic emissions in life cycle assessments
The persistence-weighted plastic emission equivalent developed in the PlastikBudget project could also represent a new impact category in life cycle assessments in the future. "With the help of factors that reflect the persistence of plastics in the environment, it will be possible in future to compare different product alternatives in terms of their plastic emission footprints," says Dr Daniel Maga, who is coordinating the corresponding further development of the life cycle assessment methodology at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. A corresponding exchange with companies is taking place here. However, implementation in the life cycle assessment methodology and the associated software solutions requires broad acceptance in the scientific community and must be prepared in corresponding standardisation committees.

The project is part of the research priority "Plastics in the Environment" (PidU) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in which 18 collaborative projects with around 100 partners from science, industry, associations, municipalities and practice want to clarify fundamental questions about the production, use and disposal of plastics. The research focus "Plastics in the Environment - Sources, Shrinking, Solutions" is part of the Green Economy flagship initiative of the BMBF framework programme "Research for Sustainable Development" (FONA3).

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT

(c) Oeti
31.05.2022

OEKO-TEX® Association celebrates 30th birthday

The international OEKO-TEX® Association, which consists of a total of 17 independent research and testing institutes in Europe and Japan, turns thirty this year. As one of the founding members, OETI is taking this as an opportunity to talk to OEKO-TEX® expert Helene Melnitzky (Head of the Ecology Department at OETI) about the role of the OEKO-TEX® Association, market trends and current OEKO-TEX® certifications and labels.

The international OEKO-TEX® Association, which consists of a total of 17 independent research and testing institutes in Europe and Japan, turns thirty this year. As one of the founding members, OETI is taking this as an opportunity to talk to OEKO-TEX® expert Helene Melnitzky (Head of the Ecology Department at OETI) about the role of the OEKO-TEX® Association, market trends and current OEKO-TEX® certifications and labels.

The international OEKO-TEX® Association is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year. What role has it played so far with regard to the product safety of textile and leather products?
Helene Melnitzky:
In the area product safety1, OEKO-TEX® has had a great impact over the last three decades by ensuring certain pollutant additives, some of which were found in large quantities in textiles 30 years ago, no longer exist. The OEKO-TEX® Association was also the first to limit certain heavy metals. Based on our actions, legal provisions were ultimately passed. We have been testing banned dyes since before there even was an EU regulation in this regard. Of course, we now test according to the EU regulation, but in this respect OEKO-TEX® was a clear trailblazer.

In addition to product safety, OEKO-TEX® has been working on the topics of ‘environmentally friendly textile products manufactured under fair working conditions for 30 years, which also included leather products for the last five years, and with STeP by OEKO-TEX® on the ‘certification of environmentally friendly production sites’ since 2013. In one way or another, we have been preparing the market for thirty years. In the process, we are always creating new things: currently the Impact Calculator and, in autumn-2022, a new certification for brands and retailers: RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS by OEKO-TEX®.

How does that benefit the customers of OEKO-TEX®?
Helene Melnitzky:
Customers can use these calculations for external communication to demonstrate on their products or webpages that their products have a lower footprint than their competitors. This means that customers sourcing everything regionally will have a smaller footprint than companies that source products from different countries. In the future, it will be necessary to display the water and carbon footprint on the product, so that consumers can decide whether they want to buy product A or B.

How is the aspect of fair working conditions taken into account?
Helene Melnitzky:
This topic has also been gaining significant momentum over the last ten years. There is now enough pressure on brands and retailers to improve local working conditions. We cover this area as part of our STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification2 with our ‘social responsibility’ module. The advantage for our customers is that they can subsequently use the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label to show how they have performed in the social module.

What does Transparency with MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® mean?
Helene Melnitzky:
Everything that is written on the product is transparent. The MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label is a traceable product label for all types of textiles and leather items that have been produced in environmentally friendly factories and at safe and socially responsible workplaces. Furthermore, the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label gives consumers the certainty that the textile or leather product is made from materials tested for harmful substances. In order to ensure that textile or leather products with the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label have been produced using environmentally friendly processes under socially acceptable working conditions, manufacturing and wet production sites must be certified according to STeP by OEKO-TEX®.

For a year now, it has been possible to have recycled materials STANDARD 100 certified and display that certification as a hangtag to communicate that the product consists of a certain proportion3 of recycled materials. Which market demand is this certification addressing?
Helene Melnitzky:
There is an increasing demand that at least part of the product must be made from recycled material. This is partly attributable to market pressure because raw materials are scarce and expensive. However, we are also voluntarily informing consumers about recycling as part of the circular economy.

What is your outlook for the next few years?
Helene Melnitzky:
Producing textile and leather products in a more environmentally friendly and fair manner, while making the value chain more transparent, is a global challenge that sets new environmental standards. In the long term, however, it also involves important economic and social aspects. The goal is to raise awareness of these interdependencies and a common understanding of environmental issues – among producers and, of course, end consumers. It is clear that the demand for certified and traceable products is growing among consumers. This trend is reflected in purchasing behaviour and thus in manufacturing. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to do.


1 STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® und LEATHER STANDARD by OEKO-TEX®
2 The STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification includes the modules Chemical Management, Environmental Performance, Environmental Management, Quality Management, Occupational Health and Safety, and Social Responsibility
3 To qualify, the product must contain at least 20 per cent recycled material.

(c) MAI Carbon
24.05.2022

From waste to secondary raw material - wetlaid nonwovens made from recycled carbon fibers

MAI Scrap SeRO | From Scrap to Secondary Ressources – Highly Orientated Wet-Laid-Nonwovens from CFRP-Waste

The »Scrap SeRO« project is an international joint project in the field of »recycling of carbon fibers«.

The technical project goal is the demonstration of a continuous process route for processing pyrolytically recycled carbon fibers (rCF) in high-performance second-life component structures. In addition to the technological level, the focus of the project is particularly on the international transfer character, in the sense of a cross-cluster initiative between the top cluster MAI Carbon (Germany) and CVC (South Korea).

MAI Scrap SeRO | From Scrap to Secondary Ressources – Highly Orientated Wet-Laid-Nonwovens from CFRP-Waste

The »Scrap SeRO« project is an international joint project in the field of »recycling of carbon fibers«.

The technical project goal is the demonstration of a continuous process route for processing pyrolytically recycled carbon fibers (rCF) in high-performance second-life component structures. In addition to the technological level, the focus of the project is particularly on the international transfer character, in the sense of a cross-cluster initiative between the top cluster MAI Carbon (Germany) and CVC (South Korea).

Through direct cooperation between market-leading companies and research institutions of the participating cluster members, the technical project processing takes place in the context of the global challenge of recycling, as well as the need for increased resource efficiency, with reference to the economically strategic material carbon fibers.

Efficient processing of recycled carbon fibers
The technological process route within the project runs along the industrial wet-laying technology, which is comparable to classic paper production. This enables a robust production of high-quality rCF nonwovens, which are characterized, among other things, by particularly high homogeneity and stability of characteristic values.

A special development focus is on a specific process control, which allows the generation of an orientation of the individual fiber filaments in the nonwoven material.

The given preferred fiber direction of the discontinuous fiber structure opens up strong synergy effects in relation to increased packing densities, i.e. fiber volume content, as well as a significantly optimized processing behavior in relation to impregnation, forming and consolidation, in addition to a load path-oriented mechanics.

The innovative wetlaid nonwovens are then further processed into thermoset and thermoplastic semi-finished products, i.e. prepregs or organosheets, using impregnation processes that are suitable for large-scale production.

rCF tapes are produced from this in an intermediate slitting step. By means of automated fiber placement, load path-optimized preforms can be deposited, which are then consolidated into complex demonstrator components.

The process chain is monitored at key interfaces by innovative non-destructive measurement technology and supplemented by extensive characterization methods. Especially for the processing of pyrolysed recycled carbon fibers, which were recovered from end-of-life waste or PrePreg waste, for example, there are completely new potentials with significant added value compared to the current state of the art for the overall process route presented here.

International Transfer
The fundamentally global challenge of recycling and the striving for increased sustainability is strongly influenced by national recycling strategies as a result of country-specific framework conditions. The globalized way in which companies deal with high-volume material flows places additional demands on a functioning circular economy. A networked solution can only be created on the basis of and in compliance with the respective guidelines and structural factors.

In the case of the high-performance material carbon fiber, there is a particularly high technical requirement for an ecologically and economically viable recycling industry. At the same time, the specific market size already opens up interesting scaling effects and potential for market penetration.

The Scrap SeRO project connects two of the world's leading top clusters in the field of carbon composites from South Korea and Germany on the basis of a cross-cluster initiative. As part of this first promising technology project, the foundation stone for future cooperation is to be laid that supports the effective recycling of carbon fibers. The project makes an important contribution to closing the material cycle for carbon fibers and thus paves the way for renewed use in further life cycles of this high-quality and energy-intensive material.

Info »Scrap SeRO«

  • Duration: 05/2019 – 04/2022
  • Funding: BMBF
  • Funding Amount: 2.557.000 €

National Consortium

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV
  • ELG Carbon Fibre
  • J.M. Voith SE & Co. KG
  • Neenah Gessner
  • SURAGUS GmbH
  • LAMILUX Composites GmbH
  • Covestro Deutschland AG
  • BA Composites GmbH
  • SGL Carbon

International Consortium

  • KCarbon
  • Hyundai
  • Sangmyung University
  • TERA Engineering
Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV

Photo: pixabay
17.05.2022

The industrial future needs climate-neutral process heat

IN4climate.NRW publishes discussion paper

Not only private households, but above all industrial companies have a high demand for heat. On the way to climate neutrality, greater focus must be placed on the supply of process heat to the industry - especially in the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). This is shown by the discussion paper of the climate protection think tank IN4climate.NRW.

In 2020, process heat accounted for a large percentage of industrial energy demand - 67 percent of the energy consumed by German industry - and is still predominantly supplied by fossil fuels (BMWi 2021a). That's almost 20 percent of Germany's total energy demand. No wonder: Whether glass, metal, cement or paper are melted, forged, fired or dried - all these processes require process heat. And in some cases up to a temperature of 3,000 °C.

IN4climate.NRW publishes discussion paper

Not only private households, but above all industrial companies have a high demand for heat. On the way to climate neutrality, greater focus must be placed on the supply of process heat to the industry - especially in the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). This is shown by the discussion paper of the climate protection think tank IN4climate.NRW.

In 2020, process heat accounted for a large percentage of industrial energy demand - 67 percent of the energy consumed by German industry - and is still predominantly supplied by fossil fuels (BMWi 2021a). That's almost 20 percent of Germany's total energy demand. No wonder: Whether glass, metal, cement or paper are melted, forged, fired or dried - all these processes require process heat. And in some cases up to a temperature of 3,000 °C.

In the discussion paper "Process heat for a climate-neutral industry (Prozesswärme für eine klimaneutrale Industrie)", IN4climate.NRW formulates approaches and recommendations for action for a process heat transition. A total of thirteen partners of the initiative have signed the paper.

Samir Khayat, Managing Director of NRW.Energy4-Climate: "The switch to sustainable process heat supply is one of the decisive factors in ensuring that the transformation of industry can succeed. With the IN4climate.NRW initiative, we are bringing together the expertise from science, politics as well as industry, and developing concrete strategies to put climate neutrality in industry into practice."

Various figures illustrate the need for action: Only 6 percent of the energy required for process heat has so far been covered by renewable energies. Electricity also currently accounts for only 8 percent - as an energy source, it is still far from emission-free in today's electricity mix, but must become so in the future through the switch to 100 percent renewables.

NRW alone needs 40 percent of the process heat required by the whole of Germany
Tania Begemann, Project Manager Industry and Production at NRW.Energy4Climate and author of the paper: "The sustainable conversion of process heat has always been an important and urgent topic at IN4climate.NRW, but it becomes even more explosive in times of a global energy crisis. It is estimated that NRW alone requires 40 percent of the process heat required by the whole of Germany. In order to remain economically strong and an industrial state in the long term, it is therefore of particular importance for NRW to become independent of fossil process heat sources in the near future. We would like to draw attention to this with this paper. At the same time, this enormous challenge also offers NRW the opportunity to become a pioneer."

How can this be accomplished? The discussion paper shows central approaches and recommendations for action:

  • Increase efficiency: The development and use of high-temperature heat pumps should be specifically promoted within the framework of pilot plants and concepts. In addition, companies should be supported in the development and implementation of concepts that minimize process temperatures and use waste heat within the company.
  • Promote renewable heat sources: Local, renewable energy sources such as deep geothermal energy and solar thermal energy can be an important component of climate-neutral process heat supply and at the same time reduce the reliance on energy imports. Where renewables can supply industrial heating needs, they should be used. These forms of energy should therefore be supported in a targeted manner through inquiries and tenders.
  • Increase renewable electricity: The electrification of processes and applications is the prerequisite for the energy transition. Expanding renewable power generation along with a solid power grid, creating competitive prices for green power, and developing flexible systems are therefore key tasks.
  • Promote storable alternative energy sources: To be able to generate process heat even when renewable energies are not available, industry needs large quantities of storable energy carriers. In particular, sustainable hydrogen must be available at competitive prices and the necessary conditions, such as a transport and storage infrastructure, must be created. In addition to hydrogen, biomass is a valuable and storable energy carrier and raw material at the same time. This limited resource must therefore be used in a targeted and efficient manner.

The climate-neutral generation of process heat is of great importance for the whole of Germany, but especially for the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and at the same time represents a major challenge. The heat transition in industry requires an overall systemic and supraregional view and strategy development. On the one hand, such strategies should take into account the interaction of different sectors. On the other hand, they should include all heat requirements - from buildings to industry. In this paper, decision-makers from politics, industry and society will find initial reference points and impulses for this important, common task.

The paper was developed by the IN4climate.NRW initiative under the umbrella of the NRW.Energy4Climate state organization. It is supported by the institutes Fraunhofer UMSICHT, RWTH Aachen (Chair of Technical Thermodynamics), the VDZ research institute as well as the Wuppertal Institute, the companies Amprion, Currenta, Deutsche Rohstofftechnik (German raw material technology - RHM Group), Georgsmarienhütte, Kabel Premium Pulp and Paper, Lhoist, Pilkington Germany (NSG Group) and Speira as well as the Federal Association of the German Glass Industry.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT

(c) A3/Christian Strohmayr
10.05.2022

Fraunhofer reduces CO2 footprint and recycles trendy lightweight carbon material

Neo-ecology through innovative paper technology

To reduce the CO2 footprint, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV Augsburg research with a state-of-the-art wetlaid nonwoven machine for recycling carbon fibers. The production processes are similar to those of a paper manufacturing machine. The crucial difference: we turn not paper fibers into the paper but recycled carbon fibers into nonwoven roll fabrics. The carbon fiber thus gets a second life and finds an environmentally friendly way in nonwovens, such as door panels, engine bonnets, roof structures, underbody protection (automotive), and heat shields (helicopter tail boom), as well as in aircraft interiors.

“Wetlaid technology for processing technical fibers is currently experiencing a revolution following centuries of papermaking tradition.”
Michael Sauer, Researcher at Fraunhofer IGCV

Neo-ecology through innovative paper technology

To reduce the CO2 footprint, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV Augsburg research with a state-of-the-art wetlaid nonwoven machine for recycling carbon fibers. The production processes are similar to those of a paper manufacturing machine. The crucial difference: we turn not paper fibers into the paper but recycled carbon fibers into nonwoven roll fabrics. The carbon fiber thus gets a second life and finds an environmentally friendly way in nonwovens, such as door panels, engine bonnets, roof structures, underbody protection (automotive), and heat shields (helicopter tail boom), as well as in aircraft interiors.

“Wetlaid technology for processing technical fibers is currently experiencing a revolution following centuries of papermaking tradition.”
Michael Sauer, Researcher at Fraunhofer IGCV

The wetlaid technology used is one of the oldest nonwoven forming processes (around 140 BC - 100 AD). As an essential industry sector with diverse fields of application, wetlaid nonwovens are no longer only found in the classic paper. Instead, the application areas extend, for example, from adhesive carrier films, and packaging material, to banknotes and their process-integrated watermarks and security features. In the future, particularly sustainable technology fields will be added around battery components, fuel cell elements, filtration layers, and even function-integrated material solutions, e.g., EMI shielding function.

Fraunhofer IGCV wetlaid nonwovens line is specifically designed as a pilot line. In principle, very different fiber materials such as natural, regenerated, and synthetic fibers can be processed, mainly recycled and technical fibers. The system offers the highest possible flexibility regarding material variants and process parameters. In addition, sufficiently high productivity is ensured to allow subsequent scaled processing trials (e.g., demonstrator production).

The main operating range of the wetlaid line relates to the following parameters:

  • Processing speed: up to 30 m/min
  • Role width: 610 mm
  • Grammage: approx. 20–300 gsm
  • Overall machinery is ≥ IP65 standard for processing, e.g., conductive fiber materials
  • Machine design based on an angled wire configuration with high dewatering capacity, e.g., for processing highly diluted fiber suspensions or for material variants with high water retention capacity.
  • Machine modular system design with maximum flexibility for a quick change of material variants or a quick change of process parameters. The setup allows short-term hardware adaptations as well as project-specific modifications.

Research focus: carbon recycling at the end of the life cycle
The research focus of Fraunhofer IGCV is primarily in the field of technical staple fibers. The processing of recycled carbon fibers is a particular focus. Current research topics in this context include, for example, the research, optimization, and further development of binder systems, different fiber lengths and fiber length distributions, nonwoven homogeneity, and fiber orientation. In addition, the focus is on the integration of digital as well as AI-supported methods within the framework of online process monitoring. Further research topics, such as the production of gas diffusion layers for fuel cell components, the further development of battery elements, and filtration applications, are currently being developed.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV

Photo: pixabay
03.05.2022

The Journey to Carbon Neutrality: Reduction technologies and measuring tools

More and more sports and fashion brands are setting themselves the goal of becoming climate neutral within the next few years, on a corporate as well as product level. The CO2 balance serves as the gateway to sustainable apparel and for more transparency for the consumer.

This process begins with the materials supplied by textile producers, requiring knowledge of the amount of CO2 emitted during production. By evaluating and quantifying CO2 emissions, the industry gains in transparency and can turn to more sustainable options.

More and more sports and fashion brands are setting themselves the goal of becoming climate neutral within the next few years, on a corporate as well as product level. The CO2 balance serves as the gateway to sustainable apparel and for more transparency for the consumer.

This process begins with the materials supplied by textile producers, requiring knowledge of the amount of CO2 emitted during production. By evaluating and quantifying CO2 emissions, the industry gains in transparency and can turn to more sustainable options.

In close collaboration with sustainability insights platform Higg and partners such as Climate Partner, PERFORMANCE DAYS Munich and Functional Fabric Fair by PERFORMANCE DAYS Portland seek targeted answers to the question, “How can we cut down on CO2 emissions?” as part of its roadmap over the next three fairs. The Focus Topic “The Journey to Carbon Neutrality” will therefore highlight materials and fibers that provide solutions on how to produce and reprocess materials in the future in a climate-friendly manner, kicking off at the spring trade fair, to be held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on April 4-5, 2022, at the Munich’s Exhibition Center on April 27-28, 2022, continuing through the winter fair in October/November and culminating at the Spring 2023 fair.

When the conversation turns to environmental protection and climate change these days, the term CO2 neutrality is also often mentioned in connection with CO2 emissions and CO2 reduction. Yet what exactly does CO2 neutrality mean? Climate neutrality implies achieving a balance between carbon emissions themselves and the absorption of carbon in the atmosphere into carbon sinks. To achieve net zero emissions, all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide must be offset by carbon sequestration. The fashion and sportswear industries are among the world’s highest emitters of CO2.

If one wishes to examine their emissions across all stages of the value chain, it is worth looking beyond raw materials, production, logistics and trade. Consumer behavior can also influence emissions: According to the “Fashion on Climate” report published by the Global Fashion Agenda and McKinsey at the end of August 2020, even greater leverage lies in the products themselves: 61 percent of reductions in emissions could be achieved through CO2 reductions in material production and processing, by minimizing production and manufacturing waste, and in the manufacturing of garments. By 2030, that would account for around 1 billion tons annually. And last but not least, consumer behavior is also a factor that impacts the fashion industry’s climate footprint. If even more attention is paid to sustainable clothing, and if it is reused and worn longer, this can lead to a reduction in emissions of up to 347 million tons, according to the report.

A pioneering example on the road to sustainability was PERFORMANCE DAYS’ decision to only present sustainable materials at the PERFORMANCE FORUM from the trade fair event in November 2019 onwards. And from the upcoming Spring Fair onwards, the sustainable approach will be heightened further. Within the framework of this roadmap, the new Focus Topic is intended to accompany exhibitors on their way to climate neutrality over the course of three fairs. In doing so, PERFORMANCE DAYS and Functional Fabric Fair are pursuing a 3-step plan.  

  • Step 1, April 2022: The focus of the upcoming fair will be on CO2-reducing technologies and the measuring of a product’s carbon footprint.
  • Step 2, November 2022: Within the entire Focus Topic product category, only products that indicate CO2 emissions caused during production will be shown. This contributes to more transparency and comparability in the industry.
  • Step 3, April 2023: The PERFORMANCE FORUM will present the amount of CO2 emitted by each individual product. Furthermore, approaches to solutions will be shown as to how CO2 released during the manufacturing of materials can be offset and further reduced.

For the best possible implementation and presentation of the new Focus Topic, PERFORMANCE DAYS and Functional Fabric Fair trust in collaborators: Higg and Climate Partner – amongst others – will accompany the next three fairs. The Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) is considered the leading tool for assessing the environmental impact of materials in the apparel, footwear and textile industries. The Higg MSI is able to calculate the environmental impact of millions of possible material manufacturing variants. A packaging library has also been added to assist in making sustainable decisions for packaging. The Higg Index is neither a certificate nor a label, but rather an important self-assessment tool that textile companies can utilize internally to be able to identify and improve environmental and social issues throughout their value chain.

Climate Partner, on the other hand, seeks solutions for climate protection: This involves the balancing of CO2 emissions – which in turn are to offset the emissions of companies with recognized climate protection projects in order to make products, services and companies climate neutral. Climate Partner also sees itself as an advisor to companies on their climate protection strategies. Together, the aim is to work on reducing CO2 emissions and to support climate protection projects that benefit the everyday lives of people in developing countries. 

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PERFORMANCE DAYS